Operational and reputational risk top CEOs’ concerns lists

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​This is a marked difference from last year, when neither category made the list

Operational and reputational risks have become CEOs' biggest concerns, according to a KPMG survey. This is despite neither category featuring in its 2016 top 10 list.

More than a third (35%) of the 151 UK CEOs questioned as part of KPMG’s 2017 Global CEO Outlook survey were concerned by operational risk, with 34% citing reputational risk as their greatest concern.

CEOs have invested time to improve their own knowledge of the new pressures facing their business, with 80% attending a course within the last 12 months. However, only one in 10 (11%) UK CEOs listed talent development as a business priority over the next three years, despite the impact Brexit could have here.

The majority of UK CEOs (75%) said recruitment investment levels would increase in three years’ time, along with the level of workforce training (58%). Business leaders were also hiring experts to help them understand geopolitical risk, with seven out of 10 (69%) recruiting specialists into their management teams.

However, the survey also revealed a wider absence of recent investment in emerging technology, with 60% of British CEOs saying they had not invested in this over the last 12 months and had no plans to do so over the next three years.

Bill Michael, global head of banking and UK chair-elect at KPMG, said: “Fuelled by global and domestic uncertainty and the increased threats to firms on multiple levels, the business landscape has become incredibly complex. Yet the CEOs who have ridden the storms facing their sectors over recent years have become more agile, constantly aware of the importance and the fragility of their brands, and are doing their utmost to protect them. This has also brought new demands for the CEO: they must be emotionally intelligent to navigate this change and guide and inspire their people through it.

“The recent general election result in the UK, combined with ongoing uncertainty over the implementation of Brexit, means CEOs must invest now to have the skills they need for the future. Leaders must equip their colleagues with the right training, confidence and resilience to enable them to quickly adapt as political events unfold,” he added.

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